Blacktown Hospital registered nurse wins grant for world-first, patient-focused research on changing opioid dependence treatment medication

Blacktown Drug Health Registered Nurse Bryan Adduru is the recipient of a Western Sydney Local health district (WSLHD) Kickstarter Grant for his research proposal titled: ‘Investigating patient experiences of changing opioid dependence treatment medication’.

The qualitative study being undertaken by a research team and headed up by Bryan will explore patient experience on changing Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) medications, including patient desire to change, expectations, and impact to quality of life.

While Bryan is the Principal Investigator for the research, there is a dedicated team committed to this project, including Dr Marguerite Tracy, Jennifer Luksza, Kulpreet Kaur, Fionnuala Smyth and Theodore Liew.

OTPs are a critical component of the response to opioid use disorder (OUD), providing opioid replacement therapy for those dependent on opioids such as heroin, morphine or any other opiate substance.

Giving people a chance to stop or minimise opiate dependence by assisting to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and to support individuals in their recovery ensuring patients can focus on their health and maintain a drug-free life.

However, OTP dependence can occur, and this may become a significant issue for some individuals.

Dependence on OTP medications can result in several physical and psychological symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and depression as well as stigma, discrimination, and social isolation, making it difficult for individuals to access the support and resources they need to manage their OUD.

In an interview with The Pulse, Bryan explained the significance of his research project, saying:

“To date there is no published data on the experiences of patients changing OTP treatments, making this the world’s first data which is crucial to understanding barriers, facilitators, and unexplored aspects of changing medications.”

This research is patient focused – listening to their experiences on how changing medications will impact their life.

In doing this, Bryan hopes to gain insight into the factors that influence medication adherence and persistence, and ultimately identify strategies to support individuals in their recovery.

“The study will provide valuable insights into the experiences of individuals who wish to change their OTP medications and will help to inform the development of more effective and patient-centred approaches to OUD treatment,” Bryan said.

We feel so happy and grateful for the opportunity. Shortlisted among the applicants was enough, but winning one of the grants made it super special. We are excited.

Bryan Adduru